We reported earlier that Wellington’s Embassy Theatre was opening their on-site box office early for fans to line up and be the first in the world to get tickets for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Jack Machiela, friend of Middle-earth News and founder of the Welly-moot Tolkien Society, organized a line party for local Hobbit fans. They had Welly-moot T-shirts made and a brand new Welly-moot banner to rally behind.
He showed up around 9:00pm and met other eager fans who had been queuing since 5:30pm. By 11:00pm, most of the 50-60 excited fans had arrived. According to Jack, “Quite a number of people were wearing cloaks of various descriptions, and a few people were in full Middle-earth costumes. Around 11:30pm, the atmosphere was buzzing.”
At about 11:45pm, the mood began to change. People in line started to notice that the tickets, announced to go up at midnight, were already on sale. Jack was worried, but figured that since the main auditorium had room for 800 people, some seats would still be available.
Then, at 11:52pm, the people who were checking the online sales announced that the tickets had sold out.
The line hadn’t even started to move.
When they reached the ticket counter, their fears were confirmed–there were no tickets available for the midnight showing they wanted.
“That’s roughly where the party ended,” Jack said.
“We ended up having to settle for midnight tickets but in the (much) smaller auditorium, which does not have 48fps or the new Atmos sound system currently being installed in the building’s main screening room. The prices were the same though,” said Jack. “The people behind us were told that session had also been sold out now. Some people bought tickets for other sessions, at later times or even dates. In other words, we weren’t going to see it together as a group, or as the first country in the world.”
In the time leading up to the event, Jack had informed the press of their gathering. A reporter from the Dominion Post chronicled their experience.
And because of that exposure, things took a turn for the better.
Later that morning, Jack received a text from Matt Draviztki, Peter Jackson’s spokesperson.
Jack explained, “Apparently Sir Peter Jackson had heard about the fiasco, and wanted to get involved. Matt extended an astounding offer to the group – if I could get the whole queue back together, Sir Peter would ensure that we would see the movie in its full 48fps glory, come hell or highwater. I spent the better part of the morning trying to get in contact with 60 people who’s names I did not take down last night. Luckily everyone seemed to be on Facebook, and there were a lot of photos taken.
“I also got a call from Sarah Meikle, who works for our city council-sponsored organisation, Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT). She told me what had happened. Apparently, about eight weeks ago the PWT had booked the entire first ‘public’ session. They had asked for permission to do so, and had received it (so, the fault of this is NOT with PWT, or the Wellington Council).
“The reason they booked the session was so they could arrange for a huge party, and they intended to give away tickets via competitions etc.
“And so, it was decided to donate 120 seats to the Hobbit Line Queuers, and to the Welly-mooters.”
You can read Jack’s entire account of the evening at the Welly-moot Blog. He sends his sincere thanks to Peter Jackson, Matt Dravitzki, and Sarah Meikle for all of their help and support.
Jack is waiting for the final arrangements to come through, and will do his best to distribute the tickets as fairly as possible. If you were there and have not yet been contacted, please send an email to Jack telling him where you were sitting (photos would be great). Emails can be sent to email@example.com.